It’s hard to believe my trip to Cuba was less than a month ago – With all of the devastation in that area of the world right now it feels like a universe away. My heart is with the pastel island I fell so in love with a few weeks ago, and everyone else being affected by seemingly endless natural disasters this season. Please join me in sending good vibes and donations if you’re able (there’s a helpful list of where to donate here.)
Though we had a minor tropical storm during our stay at Memories Resort Jibocoa, we were lucky to spend most of the time baking in the hot sun and humidity with no rain or wind in sight. It’s been awhile and I’ve already shared a lot about my trip here and here, but I wanted to publish this one last photo set featuring my dreamy white dress from Privacy Please. Shot amongst palms and pink resort buildings with kelly green doors, I paired this piece with mules, with a cute converitble bag by Poppies and Peonies + the cutest glittery tropical nail art from Her Majesty’s Pleasure – it was the perfect vacation look for the perfect vacation.
So much changes every year in Toronto that it can be hard to form lasting traditions: restaurants close, parks turn into condos and vice-versa. The one thing we Torontonians can count on however, is The Ex.
The CNE, aka The Ex, has become a mainstay in our summer schedule every year. The perfect way to spend the day and by far the cutest date spot in town after the sun goes down, this classic carnival is a massive patch of magic that takes over part of downtown year in and year out. It’s become a bit of an annual tradition for Team RAOP to get dressed up in cute colourful outfits and spend a day shooting, spinning and snacking at The Ex, and despite my busy schedule with Cuba and birthday adventures, this year was no exception.
For those of you who have been following me since the beginning, you probably have a sense of how much I love birthdays. I tend to go really over the top, planning days of celebration and adventures and splurging on the perfect princess dress. It’s been the same since I can remember, and I was always insistent I would never grow out of it.
But this year I decided to do things a bit differently.
My 26 was odd to say the least – I went through massive changes and when I compare this month last year to the present it’s almost unrecognizable. I’m living somewhere new, business is booming, I’ve travelled almost nonstop, lost so many friends and somehow gained even more. I’ve learned how to be happier single than I’ve ever been in my life, and, well, learned how to be single in general. Instead of throwing a massive party, dragging all my pals to a theme park or making an absurd dinner reservation, I decided to ring in 27 with a trip somewhere totally new, setting the stage for a fresh start and a year filled with even more exploration and forward momentum than the last.
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With almost no planning my good friend Dani and I somehow ended up on a plane to Cuba on the eve of my 27the birthday. We landed late at night, and the lack of streetlights made everything but the sticky heat impossible to decipher. We checked into Memories Jibocoa, our home for the weekend, and it suffices to say from that second on every moment following was pure pastel-tinted heaven.
I’ll be sharing so much more about Cuba, including my Havana city guide, resort details, scuba diving expeditions and more in the coming posts, but let’s get back to the birthday theme as that’s what this particular bit is all about. Instead of my usual princess plans, I spent my day exploring the bustling streets of Havana, sipping daiquiris at Hemingway’s favourite bar and swimming under the stars. Instead of splurging on tulle and sequins, I went for a timeless summer citrus dress from For Love and lemons and traded a sparkly clutch and disco platforms for a backpack and walkable mules.
What does it all mean?!?
Maybe I’m overanalyzing, but turning 27 not only looked different than all the years that came before, but felt different too. Though in a lot of ways I “had less”, namely a partner to shower me with attention, I found myself more content than I thought possible without a great love in my life. There was a lightness to my 27th birthday; less pressure, and for the first time in years no tears of disappointment or irrational arguments. I literally smiled all day long.
I’ve honestly been dreading turning 27 since my last birthday, resentful to find myself in my late 20s with no wedding in the works or family of my own on the way… I know, I know, I’m still young, but 27 was my goal age for starting a family and I’m *very* goal oriented! To my surprise, 27 may have been my absolute best birthday ever, despite looking different than I expected and I’m heading into this year happily single, full of inspiration and ready to push myself to only get better with age. If this is how growing up feels, maybe it isn’t so bad after all?
Though the humidity in Toronto makes dressing up a bit more difficult, I refuse to give it up entirely. I love putting together dreamy outfits laden with sparkles and golden touches, and no one does those things better than Ted Baker.
I’m on a bit of a navy blue kick right now, and this structured cocktail dress with delicate 3d floral details is perfect for everything from Friday night patio drinks to Sunday brunches. Romantic and whimsical, this look sends my imagination to croissants at Parisian bistros, cobblestone streets and old world romance. Paired with pearl earrings, glittery metallic accessories and the perfect Ted Baker “dress up” jacket, this look begs for a night at the ballet! Who wants to take me?